Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"When the going gets tough..."

“... the tough go shopping!” I think the original saying was “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But shopping works for me!

A week ago Saturday my husband surprised me by coming home from work and suggesting, “This would be a good day to spend in a store.” It was raining -- hard. None of the Saturday afternoon tasks he had planned could be done. I was only too happy to go along with his suggestion. The store he had in mind for himself was Lowe’s. I had any number of places nearby to Lowe's from which to choose.

It may be surprising, but I chose Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart in the town we’d be in is much nicer and more well-stocked than the one in our own town. So I spent a couple of hours there, wandering the aisles and looking for things on my list. One particular goal of my search was to find a few items to spiff up my kitchen. I’d been so inspired by Kelly’s essay at -- “The Cost of a New Kitchen” that I wanted to find a few simple items to help with that goal. I found some really cute place mats that featured all different fruits on a green-checked background. The walls in my dining area are sort of a retro green, and I have a strawberry theme in both kitchen and dining area. So these mats were perfect. And only 97¢ for two! I also bought a new dish drainer for my sink. I’ve only seen these items before in neutral colors like white or cream or brown -- but I found a RED one. It’s actually called “Intense Red” and looks perfect in my strawberry kitchen. And it makes me smile every time I look at it!

The other thing I was looking for was some sort of container to corral loose recipes I have stacked on one corner of my kitchen counter. I have an old, tall recipe file box there, but I seldom use the recipes in it anymore. My most frequently used recipes I keep in a photo album kept with my cookbooks -- works perfectly. And I have an expandable file folder full of clipped recipes to try. But most of these on my counter are recipes I use quite a bit and don’t have room for in the photo album. I think inevitably I am going to have to buy another one of those, but knowing me, I also know there will probably always be a stack of loose recipes on my counter. What I want to do is reorganize a lower cabinet and be able to free up enough space to store the old tall file box in there. I can’t just throw those recipes out -- they are from my childhood and my kids’ childhoods, and every now and then somebody asks me for one of them. Then for the loose recipes -- well, what I found was, I think, intended to be a planter. It’s galvanized metal, long and narrow, with an embossed ivy design. I think it will hold my recipes just fine, and look neater and decorative at the same time. I plan to put index cards in it for dividing the recipes into categories. We’ll see if it works. If not, I can always use it as a planter! Now, to get that cupboard reorganized...

We also went to a consignment shop that day. I had hoped to find some clothes -- I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and need to find some smaller, inexpensive things -- but I didn’t find what I was looking for. I did, however, buy 2 books -- a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book #2 which I passed on to my daughter, since I have that volume, but it’s a keeper and I knew she would use it -- and a hardcover book on making crafts to sell that has some really practical ideas in it.

We ended our rainy-day outing with supper at a favorite diner. It was such fun to dash in out of the pouring rain to a warm, bustling place full of good cheer and comfort food. (I ordered breakfast.)

What a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The earth is full of God's riches!!

I just finished writing a summer devotional book for children. It will go to the printer on Monday. This is the 6th such project I have undertaken. This year, more than ever, I have been refreshed and encouraged as I wrote the devotional pages for each day. It was such a blessing to be reminded afresh of the precious, basic truths of God's Word. I wish every adult Christian could have this opportunity to see God's Word from a child's viewpoint.

As always, I have included many verses from the Psalms. Psalm 104 was a rich source for me as I wrote a number of devotional pages concerning God's creation. This year's book has a Western theme, so I wrote many pages about desert flora and fauna. Here is a photo taken last summer in Nevada's Ruby Mountains.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Trying a new experiment

I don't really have time to be doing this, but as I've said before, I seem to need to try to do something creative every day. I've been inspired, as I've looked at Scripture graphics, to try and create some of my own using my own photos. I really know absolutely nothing about doing this, but decided to give it a try. Here's one of my first attempts, using one of my favorite Scripture verses and a photo taken in Lamoille Canyon in Nevada.

It may not work, but I'm giving it a try.

Monday, May 15, 2006

In the nick of time!

Don’t you just hate it when you buy some perishable grocery item, only to have it go bad before you can use it? Even though I plan my menus and grocery shopping carefully, sometimes it still happens. More often than I’d like!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought several colored sweet peppers because they were on a good sale, thinking I’d make some fajitas. For one reason and another, the fajitas kept getting moved to menus for days later in the week. I thought I’d make them for tonight, then noticed that the particular recipe I intended to use called for the crock pot -- which I had just washed and put away. Not anxious to wash the pot again so soon, I moved the fajitas to tomorrow and planned a supper of leftovers -- the steak for the fajitas was still frozen, anyway. (Yes, I know you can buy those plastic liners for the slow cooker, and I like them for some things, especially ribs, but I thought it might be a pain trying to scoop the fajita filling out of the liner.) The peppers weren’t spoiled yet, just wrinkly, and I didn’t want to waste them.

So here’s what I did: washed the peppers and cut them in strips, then arranged them on a huge parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Stuck the sheet in the freezer just as it was. When the pepper strips are frozen solid, I’m going to stuff them into zip-top freezer bags and have some great IQF peppers on hand. I ended up with lots more than I’ll use in the fajitas, so there’ll be some for the future, and I’ll feel not only rich, but thrifty and smart. (Not as smart as if I’d done this right off, however. A lesson for the future!)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

This is the day which the LORD hath made!

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Psalm 118:24 is one of my favorite Scriptures! "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

So many times we just do not feel like rejoicing on a particular day. I am very blessed that many years ago, a dear friend made me a little framed cross-stitch piece with this verse on it. I chose to hang it in the bathroom because the colors were perfect with the wallpaper. It's only been in the past few years that I recognized God's hand in prompting me to hang it there. This little verse is the first thing I see when I step out of the shower each morning.

Even when I haven't been consciously aware of it, these precious words have prompted me to have an attitude of rejoicing as I start each new day. No, the day ahead may not be filled with our favorite things. Often, we do not have any idea what a particular day may bring. But God does! It is a day that He has made, and He is our all-wise, all-knowing God. We can rejoice in that!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ongoing answers to ongoing prayers...


I’ve been so encouraged lately to see how God has been answering my ongoing prayers for my own growth in several areas. It’s happened without my even being totally aware of it. These are things I usually pray for only once a week, on Saturday, my day to pray for myself.

(I don’t recall if I have shared much in the past about my prayer journal. So I’ll briefly do so here. Basically, I have three sections -- Adoration, Agreeing, and Asking. In Adoration, I have a number of pages dealing with individual attributes of God. In Agreeing, I have a number of pages dealing with sin issues/character flaws in my life. Asking is the largest section and contains a divider for each day of the week, as well as one for every day. I pray for my husband, kids/grandkids, my parents, and a few special friends everyday. I have our church directory divided up pretty much evenly and pray for a certain portion of our church family each day. Beyond that, on Monday I pray for missionaries; Tuesday, for special friends; Wednesday, for church leadership; Thursday, for our country and our extended family; Friday, for several special families I am praying specific verses for; Saturday, for my personal requests, and Sunday, for each aspect of our church services, any visitors, etc. So that’s my prayer journal in a nutshell.)

Back to my personal prayer requests. I have a number of them. But sometime back, when I completed a Bible study on Proverbs 31 (“Beautiful in God’s Eyes” by Elizabeth George), I was challenged to list down prayer requests for areas where I needed to grow and change to become a woman like the Proverbs 31 woman. Here’s my list:

* MYSELF: work on kindness, careful speech, health and energy.

* MY HUSBAND: work on taking better care of him, helping him, benefiting him.

* MY HOUSEHOLD: work more diligently at watching over it.

* MY ENTERPRISES: work harder at discovering how God might have me to use my skills and interests to benefit the family.


Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t seen huge progress or answers in all of these areas. But in a couple of areas the answers have been amazing.

For the health and energy request, I am continually learning to eat more healthfully and exercise more regularly. A free download from called the “body clutter investigator” has recently helped me keep much better track of things like water, exercise, sleep, and fiber intake on a daily basis. Each of those things really makes a difference! I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past year and gotten a lot more fit as I’ve exercised more regularly.

For the household request, I’ve shared before how the FlyLady system has helped me get a handle on my homemaking. Even though I haven’t done the best at this through my recent big writing project, yet I’ve been amazed at how having the basic routines in place has helped me stay right on top of meals, laundry, dishes, etc. In the past, all of those things would suffer when I had a deadline. I’ve also been helped by Elizabeth George’s books “Life Management for Busy Women” and “God’s Wisdom for a Woman’s Life” and also by Organized (Today I have zeroed in on my kitchen, as that’s the FlyZone for the week, and am seeing some progress even though it’s late in the week. As FlyLady says, I am not behind!) In recent weeks, I’ve been blessed to visit the blogs of Mrs. B and Mrs. Wilt and find these ladies to be incredibly inspiring in the household department!

Another ongoing prayer request of mine has been to nurture my creativity. I find that I am happiest if I can do one creative thing, however small, each day. I’ve gotten much inspiration from the crafts message board at Organized The ladies there put up a challenge each week for spending a certain amount of time crafting. Although I seldom accomplish everything on my list, yet I find it very encouraging to have goals and just pick away at them bit by bit. It has kept crafting on my “radar screen” even on the most stressful days. Again, I find my creativity nurtured by visiting blogs -- I’ve been especially blessed by Mrs. Wilt’s thrifting finds and by the vintage embroidery pattern site she shared. I’ve also been blessed -- just today -- as I looked over an essay from Kelly at concerning a “kitchen remodel” that costs almost nothing but time and a creative way of looking at things.

What an amazing God we have! I am humbled and so very encouraged as I see how He works and the different vessels He uses to answer our very personal, heartfelt prayer requests.

A sigh of relief...

Yes, I'm heaving a sigh of relief as I see the end of my huge writing project in sight. Theres' still a bit of organizing to do, but the actual hard work of writing 100 pages or so is done.

As I've come to expect, the day after finishing such a monumental effort is something of a letdown, in a way. I say "letdown" for lack of a better word. It's more like I can't decide what to do next. Do I catch up on housework? Do I write letters or e-mails to all my friends I've neglected for months? Do I post in my blog? Do I sit down and cross-stitch? Do I get out my new sewing machine (still in the box since Christmas) and try it out? Do I cook? Do I rake the yard? So many choices, after weeks of no free time, are mind-boggling.

Maybe I can make it a "15-minute day" (a la FlyLady) where I do different things for 15 minutes at a time all day long. I do need to vacuum my upstairs. I'll also do some work in the kitchen, since that's the FlyZone for this week.

Hope everyone else has a happy day!